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New Research Panels to 'Take the Pulse' of Teachers, Principals

The research firm RAND Corp. has launched two large-scale longitudinal surveys intended to create a nationally representative pool of teachers and principals for researchers to explore changing perspectives on education policy and practice.

The American Teacher Panel and American School Leader Panel, each based on the group's longstanding American Life Panel, are recruiting about 4,600 district and charter school teachers and about 2,300 public school principals, who will participate in 30-minute online surveys a few times a year.

RAND researchers will ask a standard set of questions for about a third of the survey, covering topics from common standards and assessments to teacher evaluations and new technology on campus. Brian Stecher, who is leading the project for RAND, said the group is in the process of developing an item bank of longitudinal questions.

A portion of each survey will also be sold to researchers, on the condition that the resulting findings be made public and not used for proprietary work. Researchers would be charged based on the amount of time a participant might be expected to take; a full 30-minute survey would cost about $80 to $90 per person, for example, while adding a few questions to the lineup might only be a few dollars per person. Moreover, all of the demographics and response data will be open to secondary research studies after it is released.

One pilot survey has been conducted on responses to common-core testing, but the results are not expected to be released. The first full survey will be conducted in February 2015, with the results to be released eight weeks later.

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